The attorney for the Swiss national jailed in Siem Reap town for alleged acts of debauchery against two teen-agers, vowed Tuesday he will sue all those involved in the case if bail is not granted for his client.
However, the investigating judge on the case said he planned to turn down the request.
Benson Samay, speaking at a press conference in his Phnom Penh office, said his client was framed and the bail application lodged with the Siem Reap court last Friday must be accepted.
The 53-year-old Rudolf Knuchel was arrested Jan 26 and charged under Article 8 of the law on human trafficking and prostitution. If convicted, the prominent expatriate and owner of the Swiss Center D’Angkor could face up to 20 years in prison.
According to Benson Samay, if Knuchel is not granted bail, the application will be sent to the Appeals Court and legal action will be brought against staff of the Cambodian Women’s Crisis Center, three German journalists and all those who took part in Knuchel’s arrest.
“It’s not real,” said Benson Samay, who is representing Khmer Rouge military commander Ta Mok and has done work in the past for the ruling CPP. “This is like a Hollywood film. Like a movie….I will sue everybody who involved in this case, who made this crime….All the people who went that night I will sue them.”
Investigating Judge Tan Senarong said Monday he received the bail request Friday but will refuse it because the law prevents bail for people arrested on felony charges.
The danger of a suspect fleeing the country or influencing witnesses also must be considered, said Tan Senarong.
“I didn’t receive [Knuchel’s] passport so I can’t ensure that when he gets out of jail he will not escape [or] that he does not interfere with witnesses….We have to keep him there to make further investigations,” Tan Senarong said by telephone.
Minister of Women’s Affairs Mu Sochua defended the arrest Tuesday, stating Knuchel was under investigation for a long time.
“As far as we know it is an ongoing crime and one that has been followed for quite some time,” said Mu Sochua adding it will be up to the court to decide if Knuchel is innocent or guilty.
Swiss police have also taken an interest in the case and will come to Cambodia shortly to interview Knuchel, said Mu Sochua.
Benson Samay said he is working with two other Cambodian lawyers on Knuchel’s defense.
Pierre Jungo, the honorary counsul in Phnom Penh for the Swiss Embassy in Bangkok and country director for Diethelm Travel, said Tuesday he will pay legal expenses for Knuchel, but that the suspect has agreed to pay him back. Benson Samay had claimed the Swiss government was handling legal costs.